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Govt responds to Air Botswana sale speculation

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 09 May 2017   |   By Kabelo Antony Ebineng
Govt responds to Air Botswana sale speculation

In recognition of Air Botswana's status as a public and national flag carrying entity, we wish to share the following information regarding the airline current commercial/financial status as well as on the steps underway to keep it airline going. The information should allow the public, in general, to have a factually traceable status, which we will update, as and when necessary, while the on-going steps of stabilising the commercial status of Air Botswana are being undertaken. By way of background it is common cause and already in the public domain that for some years, Air Botswana has not performed satisfactorily, and has from time to time required the on-going financial support of the Botswana Government, as sole (100%) shareholder. In December 2016, and in the above adverse context, the Botswana Government, through the Ministry of Transport and Communications decided to explore possible ways of mitigating the airline's woes, while keeping it running as a national flag-carrier and a key economic enabler in the transport and communications sector. In this regard, in February 2017, an Expression of Interest (EOI) was issued with a view to determining sustainable market-driven and supported possibilities—including, but not limited to strategic operational arrangements such as joint venture(s), new equity partner(s), franchising, concession arrangements, or any other arrangement(s) that may be economically realizable. The EOI process referred to above is one of the initial elements undertaken to inform the way forward. At this stage, the results of the EOI exercise are under consideration, and the Botswana Government, as shareholder, and through Cabinet, is in the process of determining what rehabilitative steps are attainable and should be taken. The process includes looking at alternative or complementary ways of stabilising the airline, within a path which gives regard to existing statutory requirements, as appropriate. This is aimed at maintaining Air Botswana as a viable commercial entity, which will not endlessly seek or require fiscal support. At this point, certain Cabinet instructions are in place to enable the process to move ahead. However, management of the process is still internal to Government; as well as being subject to on-going consultations, which are not akin to some speculative comments, which have appeared in the media in the recent past.

In conclusion, we would like the general public and all other relevant stakeholders to

note that:-

1. Government is actively considering how in order to stabilise and retain Air Botswana as a national flag-carrier, without having to perennially support the airline financially from public coffers;

2. In respect to 1, above an EOI exercise was undertaken in February 2017, as part of supporting any shareholder/owner type-determination whose execution will, and must give regard to statutory requirements;

3. Government is aware of recent media speculation regarding the unavoidable and pending transition of Air Botswana to a self-sustaining institution, but is constrained to comment on such speculation, while still managing what, no doubt, is a commercially sensitive matter;

4. In due course, and at the right time, the Ministry/Government will publicly share what properly ought to be shared. This will include aspects of procurement and any operational or strategic considerations that the interested public, or any relevant stakeholder is entitled to know or examine;

5. Any actions undertaken by Cabinet, thus far, have followed the normal and longestablished

process (es) of making Government decisions.

We trust that this information will not only give you insight, but will provide reasonable assurance, which you can share with the general public to the effect that due formal process has been, is being, and will be followed in addressing any commercial difficulties, which both Air Botswana and the Government, as shareholder, must address in earnest. We assume that you will readily appreciate that we are professionally constrained and cannot comment on any speculative media information. The public can take assurance that, in due course, and at the appropriate time—any information, which ought to and must be shared with stakeholders like yourselves will be provided.

For further details please contact MTC Public Relations Office at 361 2004 or 362 5555.

Thank you.

Kabelo Antony Ebineng

PERMANENT SECRETARY